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OHT Amsterdam Launch Event

On Wednesday, 29th of September, we launched the OHT Amsterdam Hub with an online event titled ‘’Finding your feet and voice in the Amsterdam healthtech ecosystem’’. It was an exciting evening that brought together health tech enthusiasts from the Netherlands and beyond to discuss topics ranging from diversity and equity in health tech, to how flexible working can help drive greater inclusivity at work.

Our very own Lizzie Barclay opened the session with a brief overview of OHT’s mission and ethos, and why we decided to start a new hub in Amsterdam. Lizzie shared some striking stats on the gaps that currently exist in terms of diversity and women’s participation in the tech sector in the Netherlands and made a call to action to health tech companies to keep diversity at the core of their activities. She spoke about the discrepancy between intention and action and how diversity must go beyond a company’s statement.

Our first speaker Rian Muijsers, from SmartHealth Amsterdam, began by talking about Amsterdam’s unique position as a hub for technology and innovation and how recent years had seen a surge in interest from the business community, academics and policymakers in health technologies and AI. The need to better ‘’join-up the dots’’ between the many actors operating within the Amsterdam health tech ecosystem is what led to the creation of SmartHealth. Rian explained how the organisation acts as a focal point for collaboration and sharing of best practices, by connecting innovators with like-minded individuals, research partners and MedTech companies, offering support with identifying funding sources and providing exposure via their network.

The conversation then shifted towards discussing the key challenges facing innovators today. Rian referred to well-known barriers, such as uncertainties about funding and the complex regulatory processes needed to bring health tech products to market. Yet, an important stumbling block is that many health tech products are still being designed in a vacuum and with limited involvement from clinicians and patients. This results in products that are safe, effective and technically-sound, but that might not quite work for patients, their families or the clinicians that are intended to use them.

With these ideas in mind, we moved on to the second half of the event. Marlon Snik, from Castor, kicked us off by telling us a bit about the company and their experience creating a more equitable and flexible work environment. She spoke about how the Covid-19 pandemic but also Castor’s philosophy of building strong and happy teams, led them to develop their innovative remote-first approach. Under this model, staff are supported to work flexibly, from different locations and under the working hours that best suit them. The success of the approach is powered by teams clearly documenting and keeping records of their work. This ensures ‘’asynchronous communication’’ across the organisation and removes the need of people always having to be online.

We had a lively and thought-provoking discussion about how remote-first could not only improve people’s wellbeing and work-life balance, but also help close gaps in participation and create more inclusive companies. Our attendees, for instance, spoke about how remote-first could be game-changing for parents with young children or people with caring responsibilities. It could also allow more women to enter the workforce.

We closed down the session by thanking our speakers and attendees for taking the time to share their perspectives and ideas.

We were thrilled to have spent the evening with fellow health tech enthusiasts from all walks of life and are looking forward to the next few weeks as we start preparing our future strategy.

If you’d like to participate, please get in touch on or via our Twitter account @OHT_Amsterdam.


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